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Major turnout for PCS demos in Plymouth
Friday 30th November has seen an overwhelming response to the Con-Dem government from PCS union members saying that they are not prepared to accept the taking away of civil servants' terms and conditions and attacks on trade union allocation time.
PCS branches were encouraged to organise 15-minute lunchtime protests. Ironically, the inspiration for the protests comes from Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude who, ahead of the coordinated public sector action last 30 November, told public sector workers to hold 15-minute protests to "get their point across without losing pay".
The "Don't rip up my rights" campaign was strongly supported in Plymouth, with Socialist Party Plymouth branch members and Plymouth NSSN supporters (National Shop Stewards Network) attending all the public demonstrations.
Protests were held at the Land Registry Offices with a march to meet other PCS workers at the nearby offices of HRMC. Around a hundred workers took to the streets to march against these savage cuts.
Protests also happened at the DWP outside the main Job Centre in the city. Here two lunchtime protests were held.
Melvyn Ellis, speaking on behalf of PCS as DWP Devon branch secretary and DWP South-West regional treasurer said:
"Our campaign and protest is against the attacks being made on the back of a recession that wasn't of our making.
"The hardworking staff of the DWP and other government bodies have simply had enough of the attacks which are hurting us day by day.
"Pay freezes and lack of pay progression up the pay scale are just another unpalatable insult and bitter pill we are being asked to swallow.
"Increased workloads and an ever diminishing workforce through sackings and shrinkage through non-recruitment make the DWP an unpleasant and unenviable place to work.
"The government's intransigence in browbeating people back into the workplace when there is no work to be had or worse still the strict regime employed by ATOS the department's medical company, to fail people in the WCA test (Work Capability Assessment) is a testament to the bullying tactics being employed by this government.
"Poorly paid and overworked civil servants have to bite the bullet and take the wrath of one call after the other from poor and desperate people falling foul of the many benefit traps.
"This is on top of more policies being introduced to sanction the unemployed who are supposed to be not making sufficient strides to find work".
"In PCS's opinion nowhere near enough is being done to highlight the unfair advantages the silver spooned brigade in our society have.
"The ones cushioned by a government that feeds them yearly tax cuts who won't have their electricity or gas cut off and whose children won't starve or have a deprived Christmas let alone a Christmas at all."
"We are not all in it together neither are we equal in any shape or form. Why should the rich be the only ones to benefit from flexibilities and free time while the rest of society - the 99.99 % - scrabble around grabbing work here and there to make ends meet and therefore not allowing them free time for leisure or to spend with their families.
"These are the tell-tale signs of a broken and fragmented society. Still, more punishment will put us on the straight and narrow."
The Socialist Party Plymouth branch and Plymouth NSSN supporters continue to fight and support struggles like of those of the PCS workers today.